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British student creates flax helmet

Duo Lin helmet made from sustainable materials

A University of Brighton graduate has developed a new cycle helmet made from sustainable materials instead of chemical-based plastics. It has a long way to go before reaching production, however.

James Dart, who graduated this year with a BA (Hons) in 3D Design, has created the Duo Lin helmet made with a bio-resin flax foam interior and an exterior shell of resin and woven flax.

James said initial trials showed Duo Lin to be tough and resilient, but it will need much more testing to ensure it meets safety standards. It is very much work in progress rather than a finished article.

“I am planning to further develop the materials for a helmet that will meet official British standards and I eventually want to take the helmet into production – I’m currently in talks with a potential commercial partner,” said James, who is now studying for his Masters in Switzerland.

James first developed Duo Lin for a University of Brighton project which has been supported by the Building Research and Innovation Deals for the Green Economy (BRIDGE), a European Union INTERREG IV-funded research project. James’s helmet will feature at the BRIDGE Eco Circus event to be held December at the university’s Grand Parade campus in Brighton.

Materials for Duo Lin were bought by BRIDGE. James used resin made from linseed oil from the common flax plant and a hardener for the outer shell and moulded it with woven flax, set under ultraviolet light. He created a foam from the bio-resin for cushioning the helmet’s interior.

“The finished concept is manufactured using 98% carbon renewable content," says James. "Even the helmet straps are made from needle-punched flax."

James has been wearing the helmet for his own use and while it is heavier than traditional helmets, he said. “I find it comfortable and it’s great for the British climate… it’s waterproof.

“The helmet is similar in form to some kayak helmets. I am now in Switzerland to continue with development. I have approached a well-known European helmet manufacturer. They are perhaps more interested in the bio-resin material for their own needs but I hope that my design, manufacturing process and testing will mean it will eventually see production.”

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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